Winchester's Credit Union gets off to a flying start

When Hampshire Credit Union started life in the late 1990s it had just 20 members. Its membership now stands at more than 8,000. In February, it opened a local branch in Winchester called Winchester Savers.

Since opening, Winchester Savers has already attracted over 100 members and, with the economic downturn causing uncertainty in traditional high street banking, membership of the local Credit Union branch is set to rise even further.

As Credit Unions aren’t answerable to shareholders and pay-out dividends in place of interest, they are far less sensitive to changes in the interest rate and general fluctuations in the economy.

Winchester Savers, offers its members an easy and convenient way of saving, as well as access to small, low-cost, unsecured loans.  By joining, members are essentially purchasing a part of the business – entitling them to a share of the profits at the end of the financial year.

Unlike many high street banks, Credit Unions are locally focused; as a result, they are able to maintain a good old-fashioned face-to-face relationship with all their members.

Mathew Davies, Branch Manager at Winchester Savers, said: "Membership of Winchester Savers is open to anyone who lives within Hampshire and those who join can retain their membership for life if they so wish, even if they subsequently move away from Hampshire.”

“People on low incomes will often find it beneficial to join a Credit Union, as there are no restrictions on membership and all our business is conducted in a clear and straight-forward way."

All credit unions are regulated by the Financial Services Authority, meaning that savings are completely secure and, apart from certain types of loans, the services from Winchester Savers are available to everyone.

The Winchester branch is based in the Parking Office, Middle Brook Street and is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am- 12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm. Call (01962) 820 424 for more details or visit .